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Hillside Veterinary Clinic

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  • Pages: 6
  • Word count: 1368
  • Category: Marketing

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Comparing the Hillside Veterinary Clinic Marketing Plan to the standard marketing plan outline, you can easily see certain aspects of business marketing that HVC has overlooked. First, not keeping customer email addresses is a huge mistake. E-mail marketing is a very effective and affordable effort, especially if the growing housing market is catering to new families, younger people who practically live on their iPhones and Laptops. Not even having a website is mistake #2. There are simple web platforms that have pre-designed templates, and for pennies a day HVC could triple their web presence by having a website, and feeding the business listing to the major search engines, not just Yahoo.

The actual efforts that HVC intends to use to grow their business model are not clear. They want to grow, but they have not expressed a sincere interest in taking the steps required to do so. They want to grow the business 30% before they will open up a larger location, but they’re already at max capacity. They need to hire a second vet and a few more vet techs from the local college (who we know will work for low wages to stay in the area), have them cover evenings and weekend hours, and give them the new clients so the old clients can stay with the vet they’ve built the relationship with. Everyone wins.

HVC operates in a small location on Main Street, and most of the clients are within 10 miles of here. However, 25% are located outside of the city limits, and this has no potential for growth as HVC has no intention of marketing to those people. Their statement of differentiation states “within a 10-mile radius of Wellington”, which instantly shuts the door on anyone farther out, who’s money is just as green. Customer analysis shows that these people outside of town own more large breed animals, and spend less, but with the local vet college, hire someone to do house calls, and take care of these people’s cows and horses, and stop alienating 25%+ of your customer base.

Current pricing is already 20% higher than competitors. Even the majority of existing customers are willing to pay more for better pet care, but of course they are! The people who aren’t – have already gone to someone else & are not your customers! A side-by-side comparison should be done to normalize pricing as compared to others. A value can be placed on the more personalized care, which to some people may not be worth the added cost. To keep HVC from dropping their standards for pet care, an “extended care discount pet plan” can be offered that takes the average pricing back down to a competitive level, while encouraging payment up front for the coming year’s services.

An email campaign could be launched to the existing customers offering a coupon for a free dental screening for pets in the month of July. They’ve mentioned summer being their slow season, so they have the time. People will forward the email to their friends so they can all take advantage of the promotion. If the staff is properly trained, they can help educate the pet owners of the importance of dental care, and would likely get them some new business (and with a higher profit margin as well). The Greenies Dog/Cat Treats samples are a cheap way (and likely free) to promote this program at the July 4th Family Fun Fest, where they could also give out doggie bandanas that are printed with American flags.

Brochures promoting special services should be highly utilized. The more you print, the cheaper the printing cost will be. The clinic should invest in an outdoor, covered, brochure rack, so that as townies are strolling around they can pick up a brochure after business hours, and this will help increase overall awareness of the clinic’s services. There should be more than the 3 brochures identified in the marketing plan. In addition to the puppy-care-plan, dental brochure, and description of services, they should include one for their geriatrics program, dog training, importance of spaying/neutering, heartworm prevention, adopting from animal shelters instead of puppy mills, and animal cruelty. This would help to makeup for the severe lack in ethical involvement within the community.

Local affiliations should be increased ten-fold. An alliance with the local shelter(s) could offer a slightly increased adoption fee, that pre-pays for spay/neuter services at their vet clinic. They would likely take this as a loss, but it would be worth it by the time the customer shows up and their highly educated staff sells them the puppy-care-plan or the extended-pet-care-discount-plan. Mutual alliances with PetCo could work wonders as well. PetCo may allow the clinic to start off selling a few items at a time, on credit, so that they don’t have to come off the initial out of pocket investment for stock inventory. If an item works, great; if not, no harm – no foul.

A plan should be implemented to help ensure the new residents of Wellington bring their pets to the HVC. Be it advertising in a local welcome basket, or making sure you are affiliated with as many sources for obtaining new pets as possible, this should be a top priority. Attend as many animal fairs as possible with hopes of getting in front of the new pet owner the very moment they adopt their animal. Offer breed specifics (possibly in the form of brochures) that show the new owner how knowledgeable and hands on the staff are.

Reach out to existing customers and ask for their help in the clinic’s future success. Customer referrals are the most inexpensive form of marketing out there. Many clients like to feel that you need them as much as they need you, they want to be a part of something bigger, and they really do want to help. Call them, mail them letters, email them, but get in front of them, get at least 40% to fill out a survey (ask all of them, not 3% of the total client base that happens to come in the month of March). By getting these customer testimonials, and posting them on the website, a word of mouth or “whisper campaign” could ignite and be just as viral as if it were social media.

With regards to their online presence, why is there no mention of social media? Many sources are free, and the staff would likely not mind spending a little bit of time helping to build pages on various forums. With the key to future growth being young families, is this not one of the best ways to reach out to them? And pet owners LOVE sharing photos of their furry friends. Ask them to tag the HVC in their pet photos; this will help spread the word as well.

This marketing plan was a little disappointing. Key items such as social media were missed, things that are relatively inexpensive (if not free) provided you are willing to put a little time in. Slight mention of a 20-mile radius was immediately halved to a 10-mile radius. The Competitor Matrix showed information that contradicts the rest of the Marketing Plan. An example of this would be HVC priding themselves on gas as opposed to anesthesia…. while the Appendix says the opposite. Marketing Budget is listed at $14,806,while the Pro-Forma Income Statement shows marketing expenses equal to the projected growth at more than $17,000. Regarding the preparers, there were numerous grammatical errors, mistakes, and unnecessary repetition throughout the 43 pages, implying that they were not fully qualified to prepare such an important document.

I believe the HVC will need to come to terms with a harsher reality than this plan yields. A larger investment should be made, but would be well worth it. Would you rather invest 14k for a 15k ROI, or invest 22k for a 25k ROI. They have yet to find the “sweet spot”, that magical number that shows the most bang for their buck, and would be wise to invest in an actual marketing company to assist them with planning for future growth.

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